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"Darning" with a sewing machine is a quick way to sew repairs without patches, planning, or much skill. It doesn't matter how rotten and worn away the cloth is to start out.
Make your stuff last forever. Save the planet.

My favorite Makassarese sarong had a big rip in the back. A sarong is a tube of cloth worn as a skirt by men and women in places where the weather is good and the food is tasty. Makassar is a city in Sulawesi, Indonesia.

When I wore this in Indonesia people assumed I was a Moslem scholar from Makassar because I had a beard, this sarong, and a long sleeve shirt. When they asked me about that I would lie and say "I'm from Canada" because at the time the U.S. was being run by madmen. We'd just invaded and bombed a bunch of countries. Usually the person would respond with something like "Is that in New York?".
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Step 1: Rip Something

Picture of Rip Something
First we'll do something simple.
This sarong was getting weak from salt crystals from using it to change in and out of wetsuits.
The cloth is kind of thin but it's still there. Except for the big rip, which was getting too big for me to use anywhere I might want to have a political career.

This is a perfect candidate for zigzag darning.

Step 2: Get Ready to Zig

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Get some thread you don't mind the color of.
If you want to promote mending and conserving, use garish contrasting thread.
This gold thread blends in pretty well with most colors.

Step 3: Get Even More Ready

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Line up the edges of the rip so they're just touching.
Use the widest zigzag setting your machine has.
Start sewing a half inch away from where the rip starts.
Straddle the rip with your zigzag stitch as you sew along.

If you don't like the way the cloth is being pulled together,
reduce the thread tension setting by turning the proper knobs and screws.

If the needle fails to grab one side of the rip in places, don't worry.
If the cloth is so rotten the thread starts new rips, also don't worry.
Pumuckl4 years ago
This is great! I used it to mend my favorite beach towel where it had just ripped with age. It's holding up great. Thanks for posting this. It's much simpler than how my mother had taught me to mend stuff.
DJ Radio5 years ago
When I first saw this, I thought you had screwed up in some way and wanted to say "Darn!"
Metafire5 years ago
I must say, this is a very clean-looking and efficient way of mending things for that one last stretch of use. Although, I must say that I have never managed to fit any single article of clothing before it starts to grow thin and fray. Nice explanation of a very useful technique.
Kwitmeh35 years ago
i thought the foot was your hand
ive seen the author do more in ibles with his feet than most can do with their hands. he also does more with less. i always thought darning was just for socks.
All i need now is a sewing machine, Well done!
rachel5 years ago
Excellent technique excellently explained! For even more strength, you can also run another set of straight stitches perpendicular to the first, kinda like a woven fabric. You can fill in fairly large holes this way.